Crossover will be the perfect time for Southern Baptists to meet in Saint Louis for ministry and evangelism prior to the Southern Baptist Convention to glorify God. Jim Breeden, director of missions for the Saint Louis Metro Baptist Association, described the need in Saint Louis. “We need to strengthen our reach into neighborhoods,” he said. “We have twelve unreached areas where we need to plant churches and Crossover will help us in the pre-planting stage. The ‘I-70 corridor,’ from the Arch to the airport, has pockets of lostness that we need to reach.”
Tom Firasek, missions partnership coordinator for the association, already is working with area churches and matching them with volunteers coming into Saint Louis to serve. “Crossover is not just about our association,” he said. “The entire Metro area will be served in both Missouri and Illinois.”
According to Breeden, the efforts will be church-centered. “We want to provide resources for existing churches and new church plants in reaching their communities. It will be a great shot in the arm for the urban core.”
Firasek outlined a few of the church plans for the area. “We have a rap artist performing at one church and a bike safety fair in Crestwood. We are also working with a few of the poorer performing school districts to bless them with support. Also, we will be able to offer two or three medical/dental clinics.”
First Baptist Church of Ferguson has an ongoing relationship with the Ferguson-Florissant school district and the church members are excited about the additional resources.
“God has opened the opportunity for our church to minister with reading volunteers,” Mark Cote, associate pastor, said. “Many of the children are reading below grade level. The superintendent said the school district needs help and it gives us an opportunity to build relationships with these kids. It might be the only opportunity for these kids to hear the Gospel. We want to see our church and others through Crossover demonstrate the love of Christ. We want the children to know us and know our hearts.”
Cote also discussed two Family Festivals to be held on June 11 in Ferguson. One will be at the church building and the other will be a few miles away at Forestwood Park. The one being held at Forestwood will have the medical trailer and dental trailer provided by the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“These trailers will be an attraction for the festival,” he said, “but what a blessing for these families with the help of needed health care.”
“Both festivals will focus on food, fun, and fellowship as a hook to talk to people about Christ,” Cote continued. “We will run both of these festivals simultaneously, so we will need the additional support of volunteers. We want Ferguson church members to work alongside Crossover volunteers to build relationships that will extend past the time for the Crossover volunteers to go home.”
Crossover volunteers will have the opportunity to talk to people about Christ as they invite the community to the festivals. “Teams coming in prior to Saturday,” Cote said, “will walk the streets and invite people to come to the festival. They can also take a moment to share the Gospel on the spot with them.”
Darren Casper, director of Plant Midwest and team leader for “For Saint Louis,” is looking for many of those teams to be college students. “For Saint Louis” is a missions experience for college students held June 9–13.
“We are praying for hundreds of college students to attend ‘For Saint Louis’ during Crossover,” Casper said. “During the day, they will evangelize the community through service projects and at night, they will worship and pray with church planters.
“Right now,” Casper said, “we are looking for those cool, interesting projects to use the talents of college students.”
One of the ministry projects might be the Upward Soccer, Basketball, and Cheerleading Camp offered that week in the Ferguson area.
“We’ve offered this camp during the last three years,” Cote said. “Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky comes in and conducts the camp. In our camp last year , we had 177 children and 54 decisions. We’ve scheduled the camp during Crossover this year to reach even more children.”
Cote and other leaders are looking at other ways to serve the community during that week. “We’ve found that ministry at homes opens doors for sharing the Gospel,” he said. “So, we are working with Tom [Firasek] at the association office to coordinate many of these projects for seniors and people with disabilities.”
Prayer is the primary preparation for the upcoming Crossover session. Daniel Carr, lead pastor at Canaan Baptist Church, is leading this effort. “The first Friday of every month,” Carr said, “we are asking pastors and church members to fast and pray for Crossover. We’ve also held prayer rallies and invited speakers to encourage believers toward deep reflection of self to be unhindered to be used by God.”
“God’s people need to be revived and renewed,” he said, “with a passion to live for Him. God’s movement in the believer is necessary prior to an awakening of the community.”
The focus is on Saint Louis and reaching the lost. The projects are being designed to do just that. According to Cote, many more teams are needed. “It is up to the church [or college group], how involved they want to be,” he said. “They can get their hands dirty with our labors of love, or they can talk to people and help us build relationships.”
Breeden agreed that there is much to be done. “Saint Louis is like other megacities with a barrage of problems,” he said. “But, we want to make a difference. We pray that Southern Baptists will come into our city and become a part of the solution.”
More information about volunteering in Saint Louis for Crossover is available from Tom Firasek at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.crossoverstlouis.com.
Vicki Stamps is a freelance writer and is a member of First Baptist Church in Ferguson, Missouri.